a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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An Instance of the Fingerpost (1999)
Iain Pears

A murder mystery set in Oxford in the 1660's. Mathematician John Wallis plays a major role as a character in the book (and Newton a small role). See the review at MAA online.

Contributed by Julian Havil

A very fine piece of 'faction', with 2 real and 2 imaginary characters it is quite the best of Pear's works (including the later Scipio). A great read.

Contributed by

re An instance of the fingerpost: I cannot really speak to its mathematical quality but it is an enormous pleasure to read (if crying can be accounted pleasure), and seriously well-written.

I have only given it 4 on your scale, always a slightly invidious procedure (and I spent years as as a statistician in market and social research); but I want some day to re-read it, and I suspect it would only go up rather than down.However, now I think about it, I think I tend to give novels (Watt / Our Mutual Friend / Tom Jones / Middlemarch) 4 against 5 for poetry and plays (well obviously not all of them).

Thank you for the other books on this interesting list, most of which are new to me.

It is probably supererogatory to point out that the button below this box says 'Submit Query', but I think, unless you are not a person, that you can probably tell that this isn't one. [Note: I think that the results of an HTML form may technically be considered a "query" in computer science lingo regardless of whether the words contained therein are interrogatory. -Alex]

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Works Similar to An Instance of the Fingerpost
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton by Philip Kerr
  2. An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson
  3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  4. The Three Body Problem by Catherine Shaw
  5. Flowers Stained with Moonlight by Catherine Shaw
  6. The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King
  7. The Library Paradox by Catherine Shaw
  8. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
  9. The Parrot's Theorem by Denis Guedj
  10. Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math and Probability by Colin Bruce
Ratings for An Instance of the Fingerpost:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
1.66/5 (9 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (10 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction, Mystery,
MotifReal Mathematicians, Newton,

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Great News for 1 April 2016: The long awaited cover of the comic book adaptation of The Adventures of Topology Man has been released. See here for details.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)